The creator of Fallout 4's best settlement mod says Starfield's outpost system 'basically makes the people meaningless'

People working in a futuristic outpost on an alien planet
(Image credit: Bethesda)

You might be wondering how Starfield's outpost system compares to Fallout 4's settlements. Are Starfield's player-made bases better than Fallout 4's, or worse? Did Bethesda improve on the system, or does it not quite stack up?

Explore the galaxy with these Starfield guides

Spaceman in front of a planet

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield guide: Our hub of advice
Starfield console commands: Every cheat you need
Starfield mods: Space is your sandbox
Starfield traits: The full list, with our top picks
Starfield companions: All your recruitable crew
Starfield romance options: Space dating

I could think of no one better to ask than the player who essentially reinvented Fallout 4's settlement system, modder King Gath. He's the creator of the outstanding Sim Settlements and Sim Settlements 2 mods, which are so good they should be part of the Fallout 4 base game. 

Via email, King Gath was nice enough to explain what he likes about Starfield's outpost system, what he thinks could be improved, and what's missing altogether. He's quick to point out that he's not an expert on Starfield's outpost systems yet: "I've got maybe five hours total tinkering with them so far," he says. But he likes some of the new features already.

"The interface is massively improved—would kill for that over-head build mode in Fallout 4!" King Gath says. He compares Starfield's outposts to a "light version of Factorio or Satisfactory," calling it a "nice change of pace for focus, kind of taking the Contraptions DLC of Fallout 4 and putting it front and center."

But when compared to Fallout 4's settlement system, he thinks Starfield is missing some important features.

"For example, why don't we have a set of structural foundations for all this production machinery?" King Gath says. "If it's to scratch the same itch as a factory simulator, we need tools to organize things visually—let us snap the machines together on platforms, color code or label things, change the color on the links. Also would love to see more art variety in those machines so that at a glance I can see what is producing what instead of everything being the same generic fabricator."

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Another big difference between the two games is what's required to provide for the people who come to live and work in your outposts. In Fallout 4, they have a number of needs to be met. In Starfield, you simply hire them with cash.

"I found myself missing some of the settlement mechanics from Fallout 4," King Gath says. "Would love to bring back the requirements of providing beds/food/water for my crew. One of the core concepts we embraced with Sim Settlements 2 was that people are what matter. It's the thing that draws us to Bethesda games—without the characters, there's no purpose to what we're doing. It's why we include so many recruitable characters [in Sim Settlements 2]."

Starfield, however, "basically makes the people meaningless" when it comes to outposts, says King Gath. "You can automate the entire system and the Crew's only function appears to be increasing production. Their needs are irrelevant, they aren't required for the machinery to operate, so in that way it feels disconnected from what makes Bethesda games great."

"So, in that regard it feels like a step back," King Gath says. 

As for some of the other details, he would like to see Starfield's habitat modules come with full decorations, the same way interior ship modules do. "Since I only have one home ship, I'd be happy to meticulously decorate that, but decorating dozens of outposts by hand doesn't interest me. Give me workshop mode in ships, and fully decorated HAB modules for outposts!"

And the question fans of King Gath's mods are hoping to have answered: will he be modding Starfield, and can we expect a version of his Sim Settlements mod from Fallout 4 to make its way into Bethesda's space RPG?

The answer is: We'll see. King Gath says he currently has "no idea how much" he'll mod Starfield, and it might all depend on how much he's playing by the time official modding tools are released. "If I'm hungry for more Starfieled at that time," he says, "then maybe the next 10 years of my life will be building Sim Colonies."

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.